COLIBAN Water will increase the treatment capacity of its Kyneton Water Reclamation Plant by installing aerators into its lagoons.
The water corporation discharged water into the Campaspe River outside its licence requirements earlier this year, to prevent the lagoons overflowing. It's one of several releases outside its licence in the past 12 years.
Project director Tony Kelly said the aerators would allow oxygen to circulate, increasing its treatment capacity.
These works are expected to be complete in March 2020.
The aerator installation is the first phase of works on the Kyneton plant. Further phases include additional storage lagoons and increased irrigation.
KYNETON residents are continuing to fight for better water treatment facilities, fed up with contaminated water releases to the Campaspe.
Residents today launched a petition calling the government to commit to urgent upgrades on the Kyneton Water Reclamation Plant.
If signatories have their way, the plant will be upgraded to only produce higher quality class b water.
The Kyneton Water Reclamation Plant has a history of discharging water that does not meet the quality requirements of its licence into the Campaspe River. Coliban Water manages the facility.
But Coliban Water and state government representatives say upgrade works are already underway to address the problem.
Landholder Huntly Barton said petitioners wanted Coliban Water to upgrade the plant to produce nothing but b grade water, using a biological nutrient removal system.
Mr Barton said the plant needed a 30 year investment to accommodate increasing industrial and urban development around Kyneton.
People were warned to avoid contact with water in the Campaspe River in June after Coliban Water began releasing treated industrial waste water, known as class c water.
The Environmental Protection Authority lifted the warning in July.
Coliban Water has discharged water outside of the requirements of its licence at least nine times in the past 12 years, into both the Campaspe River and Snipes Creek.
Acting managing director Neville Pearce said in June that upgrades due in March meant the plant would avoid releasing lower quality water in 2020.
Residents fear Coliban Water will apply successfully to have its licence changed, to allow it to discharge water at a lower level of dilution.
Mr Barton said Coliban Water had applied to reduce the dilution requirements of its licence, from five parts river water per one part treated water to 2:1. He called for the organisation to withdraw this application
"It would be a disaster for the river. The river's compromised. They have proven that they're untrustworthy, they know the system is inadequate," Mr Barton said.
"If they get that dilution ratio down they'll start bloody well dumping water."
The EPA confirmed it advised Coliban Water that a licence amendment would be required to change their Class C dilution and discharge rates.
A spokesperson said the EPA had not yet formally accepted a licence application of an amendment.
Coliban Water project director Tony Kelly said it would deliver $10 million worth of upgrade works to the Kyneton Water Reclamation Plant by March 2020 to help protect the Campaspe River.
These works include aerators, additional irrigation and storage.
Mr Kelly said Hardwicks would also install extra pre-treatment at their facility to reduce the load of trade waste water on the plant.
Shadow Minister for Water Steph Ryan lent her support to the Kyneton residents' petition, saying investment was required to help reduce the frequency of discharges into the river.
Ms Ryan said the obvious solution was to increase the capacity of the water treatment plant.
"It seems to be a fairly clear cut case that investment from the government is required to help reduce the frequency of the discharges into the river," she said.
"We're months and months on from when this issue was first raised by the community and there's been no action."
Minister for Water Lisa Neville said upgrade works were underway at the plant to create more treatment capacity and reduce the need for discharges.
"I know there has been a lot of community concern about the Kyneton Water Treatment Plant in recent months and I want to assure local residents that my department is working with Coliban Water closely to ensure they are operating within their licence agreements and in the best interests of the local community," Ms Neville said.
"These important works will ensure the plant can keep pace with the quickly growing Kyneton population and help protect the Campaspe River into the future."
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